May set to concede limits on Britain’s right to strike trade deals

Theresa May is set to concede Britain’s right to strike trade deals will be heavily constrained for years after Brexit, it was claimed today.

The Prime Minister insisted she would not negotiate any deal that leaves Britain tied to the European Union after transition ends in 2020.

But ministers have privately admitted a ‘grand bargain’ will be needed to unlock the talks.

Theresa May (pictured at conference in Birmingham today) is set to concede Britain's right to strike trade deals will be heavily constrained for years after Brexit, it was claimed today

Theresa May (pictured at conference in Birmingham today) is set to concede Britain's right to strike trade deals will be heavily constrained for years after Brexit, it was claimed today

Theresa May (pictured at conference in Birmingham today) is set to concede Britain’s right to strike trade deals will be heavily constrained for years after Brexit, it was claimed today

In exchange for getting a deal, Britain is set to agree to match EU customs rules to keep trade flows across the Channel from outside the Customs Union, The Times said.

A previous plan suggested this would be time limited but this clause is set to be removed by Britain – leaving it open ended and dependent on a new agreement being made. 

The idea is to break the impasse on Northern Ireland where both sides want an open border after Brexit but the EU currently insists customs checks should happen across the Irish Sea – something Unionists insist is impossible.

Mrs May told the Today programme she would not agree to anything that ‘drags on forever and ever’ or separates Northern Ireland.

She said: ‘What we will be putting forward are proposals that work, that ensure we wouldn’t be breaking up the UK.

‘The backstop is only there as something no one really wants to have to put into place because the best of dealing with no hard border is through the overall relationship.’

Mrs May said revised proposals would emerge during the ‘timetable’ of the talks.

The Prime Minister (pictured with aides in Birmingham today) insisted she would not negotiate any deal that leaves Britain tied to the European Union after transition ends in 2020

The Prime Minister (pictured with aides in Birmingham today) insisted she would not negotiate any deal that leaves Britain tied to the European Union after transition ends in 2020

The Prime Minister (pictured with aides in Birmingham today) insisted she would not negotiate any deal that leaves Britain tied to the European Union after transition ends in 2020

It could also break the impasse on Northern Ireland where both sides want an open border after Brexit but the EU currently insists customs checks should happen across the Irish Sea - something Unionists insist is impossible (file image) 

It could also break the impasse on Northern Ireland where both sides want an open border after Brexit but the EU currently insists customs checks should happen across the Irish Sea - something Unionists insist is impossible (file image) 

It could also break the impasse on Northern Ireland where both sides want an open border after Brexit but the EU currently insists customs checks should happen across the Irish Sea – something Unionists insist is impossible (file image) 

And she added: ‘We are not going to end up in something that means we end up not leaving. We are not going to end up in something that just drags this on forever and ever.

‘What we are going to do is agree with the EU the nature of the future relationship.’  

Downing Street published proposals over the summer for a temporary customs arrangement with the EU that would keep Britain tied to customs rules as part of the backstop.

However, unlike the new proposals it suggested that the plan would be ‘time- limited’.

A senior minister told The Times: ‘We need to have a conversation about customs.

‘We have to move to unlock the talks and that is going to mean compromising on signing comprehensive free-trade deals immediately.’  

hienalouca.com

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